Chinese Huawei executive Meng Wenzhou has been charged in a Canadian court with fraud and conspiracy to extradite him to the United States, ending nearly 1,000-day legal battles and diplomatic disputes on Wednesday.
The daughter of the company’s founder and CEO Ren Zhengfai is accused of defrauding HSBC Bank by misinterpreting the links between Huawei, a subsidiary that sells telecom equipment to Iran, and Skycom.
According to the US Department of Justice, it put the bank at risk of violating US sanctions against Tehran as it continued to transact US dollars for Huawei.
Supreme Court of British Columbia Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes said she would set October 21 as the date for delivering her decision.
Meng, 49, is living in a Vancouver mansion on bail, including curfew and electronic monitoring, as she awaits the outcome of her extradition.
If transferred to the United States for trial and later convicted, Meng could face up to 30 years in prison.
His arrest in Vancouver in December 2018 created a deep diplomatic rift between Ottawa and Beijing, which accused Washington of trying to crush its international tech company Huawei.
A few days later, China detained two Canadians, businessman Michael Spawer and former diplomat Michael Coorg, in what Western countries have described as “hostage diplomacy.”
Both were charged with espionage in March – allegations made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were “trampled”. Spaver was sentenced last week to 11 years in prison as final arguments in Meng’s case continued.
At a hearing last week, Meng’s lawyers denied US allegations against him, accusing Canadian and US officials of misconduct and demanding his release.
Defense attorney Mark Sandler argued this week that there was no fraud and no risk of harm to HSBC, telling the court: “We have violated the fraud law in this case.”
At the hearing, Canadian government lawyers representing US interests responded that the defense arguments in one case were best presented, and that the judge should commit to extraditing Meng.
To do so, Associate Chief Justice Holmes only needs to find out that there is enough evidence to go to trial – a relatively small number of times.
Crown Attorney Robert Frater insisted on Wednesday that “no one in this country has received a better extradition hearing than Ms. Meng.”
Meanwhile, Canadian and US officials have denied any wrongdoing in the case.
The key to the US case is a PowerPoint presentation to HSBC executives at a 2013 meeting at a tea house in Hong Kong to reassure them that Huawei is not involved in the activities that led to HSBC’s involvement. BC may violate US sanctions law. On the contrary.
Frater said Meng’s offer was “clearly misleading” to deny the true nature of the relationship between Huawei and Skycom, calling their business relationship “controllable”. Not that the two companies are the same.
“You shouldn’t have a hard time finding enough dishonesty to make the first fraud case,” he told the extradition judge.
Relations between Beijing and Ottawa have soured over the case and the detention of Canadians in China.
Trudeau called Spoor’s sentence “unacceptable and unjust,” and the Chinese Foreign Ministry responded by calling the Canadian prime minister “arrogant” and “ridiculous.”
Coorg is still awaiting sentencing, but no date has been set.
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